Local 13-year-old wins two national championships at martial arts competition

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Houma native Abigail Straley achieved some huge accolades this past weekend at a national jiu-jitsu competition in Tulsa, Oklahoma. 

She won the gold medal for the American Grappling Federation (AGF) GI challenger series for all girl competitors up to 95 pounds, making her the 95-pound AGF National Champion. She also took the gold in her gray belt division — another national championship — and grabbed the silver in the No-GI competition. 

“It feels really great because I never really won anything that big so far,” said the 13-year-old. 

Being just a gray belt, the young martial artist was the least experienced fighter in the challenger series, noting the win as even more impressive. 

The challenger championship victory was also extra sweet for Abigail as it was the first time she defeated her rival who beat her in the No-GI match. “It was really cool for me,” she shared. 

*NOTE: GI jiu-jitsu is where a fighter wears the traditional outfit and use their opponent’s clothing to grab and take them down, and No-Gi is without the traditional outfit, according to Grappling Insider.

A pupil of the Blacklist Martial Arts in Houma, Abigail has only been practicing jiu-jitsu for eight months. Yet, in that short time, she has obtained 14 gold medals and 5 silvers at various tournaments. 

Abigail’s father, Woody Straley, highlighted his daughter’s determination, putting in work at the gym six days a week and taking the time to teach the younger students. He noted that Abigail is gifted, but it’s really her hard work that got her to where she is at. 

The Houma Junior High student made sure to thank her parents and everyone at Blacklist, including her coach Drake Pellegrin, another local accomplished fighter in Brazilian jiu-jitsu who took home a gold and two silvers this past weekend. 

Abigail said she will continue competing in the sport for as long as she can. 

“I’m super proud of her,” said her mother, Natalie Straley. “…I love watching her. I hope she goes far with it.”